In the vein of the annual Spring Cleaning The Blogs, let’s address – and fix – the mistakes companies and agencies make when reaching out to new bloggers and influencers.
Receiving a fair share of rubbish requests myself, I asked two influencer friends what kinds of emails that they are receiving from brands and agencies they find offensive.
To put a disclaimer first, during my decade as beauty and style editor for a luxury publication and during my more recent years as BEAUTYCALYPSE.com founder I have met and worked with some brilliant communications professionals.
Seasoned communication pros are always friendly and generous, they keep their cool, and they never waste time – not their clients’, not their own, and not the journalist’s/ blogger’s. They get to the point. They cut out the BS. They have integrity. They understand their clients’ business and they understand the bloggers’ business.
And don’t get me wrong, the list of silly mails written by bloggers may be just as long, if not longer – simply ask any fashion PR about the most outrageous narcisstic requests they’re dealing with each fashion week and better have a big hot tea with you.
But although blogs have been around since 1999, some companies still haven’t figured out how to approach those social media mavens properly. Major spoiler: like real people.
But let’s get there step by step.
What Are The Don’ts Making Friends With Bloggers
My online friend Liz, the green beauty hunter and eco-conscious explorer on Smells like a green spirit, has summarized her experience into a list of three major don’ts.
Here’s what she shares:
“It is not always easy to communicate through computer screens, there’s always room for misunderstanding since words can be interpreted differently. However, there are certain things that brands should abstain from doing when they first reach out to a blogger.
Sending a generic email starting with „dear blogger/hey there“. Or even worse, calling a blogger by the wrong name.”
“Bloggers can easily detect which emails were sent personally to them from the ones sent out to an undisclosed group. You don’t need to know everything about every blogger, but the name and philosophy seems like the minimum required if you want to engage in a working relationship with a blogger.
Skipping reading the PR/Disclaimer page.”
“Most bloggers clearly state the services they offer, their review process and other useful information. As a brand, this enables you to select the bloggers that will most likely accept your collaboration offer. So for instance, if you’re looking for a «product-for-review» collaboration, make sure to address yourself to the right bloggers that are willing to do it. This saves a lot of time for both bloggers and brands.
Adding a blogger’s email to your newsletter database without their permission.”
“Everyone has their fair share of daily emails, and it can easily take up several hours just to go through all of them. As a result, it is rather unpleasant to receive, on top of that, additional newsletter emails from brands you have never, or barely, heard of.”
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For the sake of context: anonymous or mass-emails are okay for newsletters we signed up to, and wrong names can be attributed to some mistake in the contact database, or just autocorrect going nuts.
But what I personally would like to highlight as a particular DON’T is wrong spelling. Just let me share with you a nearly surreal story: after telling a communications pro that she kept getting my name wrong, I was suddenly facing a discussion in which she told me how my name couldn’t be written the way I’m writing it. Can you get more cheeky than that?
Dear brands – bloggers and influencers are people: get our name right and make sure you’re addressing us with something relevant for our work.
But matters can still get worse, as Din of Eiswürfelimschuh.de – Germany’s Premier Triathlon and Fitness Blog shares:
“As much as I’m delighted to receive collaboration requests for my website, many of them are annoying.”
In this time and age, with companies working with bloggers and with social media for years, you’d expect correct and targeted requests.”
“Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the case, and more than the half of all emails I receive are quite impudent to say the least. And I’m not even mentioning irrelevant link sharing or those so-called professionally written guest posts that “guarantee” to extend my blog’s reach – for a budget not worth this name. Or for free, even. It’s “absolutely fantastic content”, after all. No, I mean offers missing the very topic of my triathlon and fitness blog by as much as it’s feasible. From potato crisps to a lottery that wanted to hijack my Happy Monday format. Coupon companies, too, seem to be mushrooming and emailing like nobody’s business.
“But it’s not the requests alone that make me doubt the professionalism of such companies and their communications teams.”
Sometimes answers to my requests hit a hard-to-beat low of cheeky, making no answer look like the nicest answer.”
“One company scolded me for my very friendly reminder (a follow-up to a weeks old offer) telling me to get in touch again in six months. Another large company representative commented on my question who’d be the contact for PR requests with a flippant “well, us, who else!” leaving my question unanswered.”
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What many bloggers and influencers aren’t happy receiving either, are financially weak offers presented as though they were once in a lifetime opportunities.
Advice For Annoyed Writers
Are you rolling your eyes and frantically nodding reading this?
My friend, if you are a blogger or influencer who’s been delivering quality content for several years and have a certain good rep but just keep getting outrageous requests, I suggest that you set up and copy-and-paste a reply that explains how you work.
Keep it nice and professional, don’t ever get snarky, no matter how much your hair just exploded and your eyes bled from reading their message. (Instead, send your true story to me for a follow-up article! #shameless)
In that reply, stay confident but on the side of humble – don’t brag – and lay out to them that, to keep the high quality of your work consistent, you need to make sure new projects are starting at a certain rate and focussing on a certain range of topics. Tell them that you’re happy about their interest and open for collaborations but have to say no this time. Suggest that they subscribe to your newsletter or your post alerts or follow you on social media to keep up with your content and your development.
If more bloggers and influencers would react like that, those who monetise their beautiful blogs will be able to actually make a living blogging.
How To Approach Bloggers & Influencers: 4 Easy Steps
1. Show up
Show your interest in their work: subscribe to their blog or channel, or follow them on social media (don’t overdo – stalking is a no-no). An occasional like, comment or even link back to their posts will make you show up on their radar. This is not the time to get official yet – keep it light, genuine and friendly. Ideally, this approach also helps you understand the blog’s topics and the blogger’s style, helping you craft a good offer later on.
If your company is new, or your small business is just starting out, or you’re too afraid to reach out to the star bloggers of your niche, reach out to bloggers with a smaller audience that your customers like – or even suggest.
2. Say hi/ Or respond
After a certain time, send an email and introduce yourself and your brand or agency and ask whether what you’re offering is of interest for the bloggers, ask if they’re interested in updates, in samples, in event invitations – whatever it is that you’re marketing.
When answering a new blogger’s polite and correct request, go back to step #1 and check out their work before replying. Understand the context and scope of their work, for example speaking of beauty, are they focussing on make-up trends or on skincare ingredients? For fitness, are they athletes or athleisure Instagram models? For fashion, are they streetstyle bloggers or actually interested in the history and the business of fashion?
3. Honour bloggers
When you work with other influencers already, share and honour their best work, so that new bloggers can see exactly how much support and respect they can expect from working with you.
This will facilitate reaching out to influencers because everyone will want to get on your email list anyway!
4. Cards on the table
Whether it’s a PR story or a marketing collab, at some time it will feel right to discuss it with your influencers. Be precise and be honest. It’s in your and the blogger’s best interest to be as clear as possible on mutual deliverables. Don’t assume anything and don’t let them guess. If the budget is tight, you can always craft a package that will match the individual blogger’s standing and topics – but that’s another story.